The Autumn Statement provides a formal update on the state of the economy, responds to the new economic and fiscal forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility and announces the Government’s measures to promote economic growth.
We are disappointed that the Government has failed to address a number of issues of significance to local government:
Social care: Councils, the NHS, charities and care providers have been clear about the desperate need for the Chancellor to take action to tackle the funding crisis in adult social care. It is unacceptable that this has not been addressed in the Autumn Statement. The Government must take urgent action to properly fund social care if councils are to stand any chance of protecting the services which care for the elderly and vulnerable. Extra council tax- raising powers will not bring in enough money to alleviate the pressure on social care and councils will not receive the vast majority of new funding in the Better Care Fund until the end of the decade. Services supporting elderly and vulnerable people are at breaking point now. We cannot ignore this challenge any longer and the Government must inject genuinely new additional funding.
Education Services Grant: The Government is pressing ahead with the planned £600 million cut to the Education Services Grant, despite deciding not to go ahead with the Education for All Bill which would have removed councils' school improvement duties. Councils will now have duties with no funding to pay for them.
Government department spending control totals remain unchanged. We expect further information on spending priorities in departmental announcements. It is clear that additional funding is needed to address the aforementioned funding pressures and we would welcome publication of the Local Government Finance Settlement as soon as possible.
The Government has consulted on reforms to the New Homes Bonus and we expect to see a response to this consultation in the Finance Settlement.